It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Looking ahead

Happy Birthday, Emma! My baby turns 19 today, and in Ontario, that makes her legal on every front: she’s been legally able to vote, go to war, get married, drive a car for varying amounts of time. Now she’s nineteen, she can drink, too. (Mind you, we live less than 5 km from Quebec, where the drinking age is 18, so it’s not like she hasn’t gone across the river now and then.) Still! Legal everywhere! She’s happy about that!

Another milestone has also been reached. After many much-appreciated years of helping out in the daycare, Emma has given her notice. I booked her months ago to take over, pretty much completely, for the last two weeks of August (thus extending my holiday for a further two weeks!) but after that, she’s done. No more Emma as my regular backup.

I sort of panicked when she told me. I like my outings! I need my time out!

I can hardly blame her. She’s grown up in a daycare. When I started, she was a toddler herself. She’s had toddlers in her life, at her table, sleeping in her room, her entire life. The toddlers who allowed mum to stay home and homeschool her were also the toddlers who prevented mum from attending any school functions when she did finally arrive there. I don’t have an office job I can slip away from for a few hours.

She’s always been great about them. She’s done crafts, accompanied us on outings, read stories, given hugs, dished out discipline, mentored manners… all voluntarily, just because she likes them and is in the same space with them. She has done the occasional babysitting evening for many of them in their homes.

But now? After a lifetime of toddler-wrangling? She’s done. You can understand that. You can also understand my tiny sigh (did trees bend down your way just now?) at the thought of losing the very best, long-term, perfectly-trained, absolutely reliable assistant I have ever had.

So I panicked at first. And then I started networking. She’s not the only sensible, reliable, cheerful, flexible, experienced, warm, personable, loving, quick-thinking nineteen-year-old out there … well. Okay. They’re probably thin on the ground. But she can’t be the only one!!

My brainwave? We have a college in town. A college with an ECE program. A little exploration, and I discover that the college has a blackboard for posting job opportunities for college students. HA!

Three weeks, several applicants, a couple of interviews later, I have a wonderful young woman lined up. She’s worked a bit before starting college, so she’s in her early 20s. She’s starting the ECE program in the fall. Whee!

I am so relieved.

I’m also excited. An ECE student will be brimming with enthusiasm for the job, and will also be getting fed a steady diet of ideas, approaches, games, activities. I’m really looking forward to that influx of new ideas. It will be an invigorating breath of fresh, new air. And for her part? She’s going to get exposed to someone with years of experience, and a lot of accumulated wisdom on the principles of childcare, the long-term goals, and the minute-by-minute challenges. Discipline, management,  emotional development, crowd control. I have Civilization 101 pretty much nailed.  (Before you roll your eyes at the hubris, remember I’ve been doing this for 16 years. If I didn’t have those skills by now, I’m in the wrong profession.) Yup, I see this as a clear win-win.

She’s spent a couple of mornings with us so far. She has a lovely, warm, quiet way with the kids. They respond really well to her.  Next week when she comes, I’m going to go off for an hour or two, and leave her with the children. By the fall, I’m hoping for a day a week.

She doesn’t have her schedule yet, but thinks that will be do-able. A day a week! Oh, I’m dizzy with the wonder of it. Keep your fingers crossed for us!!

July 12, 2012 - Posted by | daycare, my kids


  1. If her programme runs like the ECE programme at the tech where I teach she may even be able to do practicum blocks with you – full time extra person for 5 weeks a term. Though you do have to do reports to go back to tech with her. (One of my best friends teaches on the ECE programme so I hear a lot about what goes into educating the next generation of educators!)

    Hope it all works smoothly for both of you

    Thank you. Since this is her first year, she doesn’t yet know this stuff, I’m sure. I guess we’ll both find out, but what a lovely idea!

    Comment by anabels | July 13, 2012 | Reply

  2. I am pea-green with envy at the notion of having a fresh-faced, energetic ECE student bouncing in here one day a week. We do have a similar program at one of the universities here in Halifax, but I’m far enough outside the downtown core that there’s no transit and most students don’t have their own car. *sigh* C’est la vie. I must try to find out though if they have longer practicum terms and if they are allowed to work in unlicensed dayhomes.

    Can I just add that reading this – “The toddlers who allowed mum to stay home and homeschool her were also the toddlers who prevented mum from attending any school functions when she did finally arrive there. I don’t have an office job I can slip away from for a few hours” – made me feel immeasurably less lonely, this week? I have to admit it’s not something I fully realized until this year when I finally got a full client load, but I know it’s been really bothering my oldest son that I’m home all day and yet can’t attend school functions.

    It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to afford this luxury. (Next up, a cleaning service???)

    I should have linked to your post for that line in today’s post [update: just did!] because it was you that got me thinking of it. I also experienced the irony that I was doing daycare so I could be home with my kids, but in a real way, doing daycare got in the way of being with my kids. Not because my kids avoided the daycare, as yours do, at least not so early as yours are doing it, but because of the lack of freedom of movement. Ironic, too, that it’s only now when my children are pretty much all grown up that I can afford the luxury of assistance that would enable me to do daytime stuff with them.

    Oh, well! Daycare is an isolating profession, particularly if you live outside the city, but no job is perfect, and daycare has its fair share of compensations.

    Comment by Hannah | July 13, 2012 | Reply

    • A cleaning service!! YES!!! (It’s funny, my husband likes to buy a lottery ticket every week and ask what we’d do with the millions. Once time I said “a cleaning service! I’d love to be able to just hang out with the kids instead of needing cram chores in around the dayhome stuff”. He had to remind me that if we won $50 million we *probably* wouldn’t need to take in kids to make ends meet anymore. 😉 )

      Comment by Hannah | July 13, 2012 | Reply

  3. I have had a sub in my program for several years and I would DIE without her – DIE, I tell you! My own kids are still too young to help out, and Mama needs a break! Money well spent. Sad that Emma is off to new adventures but so glad you found someone to step in!

    Comment by Kate | July 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. While I couldn’t be a reading Mum at my children’s school, I was known to turn up with 5 under 5’s to school presentations when my children were receiving awards. I worked out where to sit in the school hall in order to entertain the daycare cherubs and they generally enjoyed visiting Big School and we were treated well (read sympathetically) by the teachers as we were such a novelty. It also gave the teachers an insight into my children! I was also grateful that my children’s high school had night presentations to enable parents to attend.

    I love the idea of the ECE student – it’s simply brilliant! I also love the idea of a cleaner being next on your list. Oh how I used to daydream of a cleaner.

    Comment by Ali | July 18, 2012 | Reply

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